Ken Meyer (interviewed March 10, 2006 with Dieter Schmidt
and again May 7, 2007)

Attended Maderia High School and his last two days were at
Cincinnati Country Day School his last 2 years.

Meyer attended Cornell University and ﬁnished his bachelor’s
degree in engineering physics in 1960. Returning home, he received masters and
PhD degrees in mathematics from the University of Cincinnati in 1962 and 1964. He
first went to Brown University and then the University of Minnesota, but the
Queen City beckoned him to return and in 1972 he came back. This was the same
year that I started UC and my brother Doug began his university teaching. My brother
had earned all three of his degrees from Case-Western in the area of topological
dynamics which is a very abstract form of differential equations.

Meyer knew both PL/1 and C and did teach a few programming
courses, but that was not his main interest. In the early 1980s, the Math
Department purchased a Symbolics LISP machine which he described as the great boondoggle.
He and Dieter Schmidt obtained a DARPA grant at a time when DARPA was investing
in Artificial Intelligence research (see the book “The Dream Machine” by Mitchell
Waldrop). The grant supported both of them for 2 months over the summer and
then the 2

^{nd}and 3^{rd}year of the grant they were able to pick up two other people. Unfortunately, this specialized computer never really lived up to its potential so the project was scrapped after the life of the grant. Interesting tidbit of information: symbolics.com became the first .com domain on March 15, 1985 and UC got its domain in 1987.
In the 1970s there was a computer science option for math
majors. This was done in part because they could not get a separate name and it
required state approval so the option was included. Walt Poplarchek helped set
up computer certificate program as a joint venture between the University
College and the Math Department. Poplarchek had started out as one of Herget’s
graduate students, but it did not work out. Later, Poplarchek was able to earn
his master’s degree in mathematics and collaborated on a paper with Andre
Deprit. Finally in 1984 a separate Computer Science department was formed and
Meyer would teach a class for them one a year.

**Persons mentioned**

__Paul Herget__

Meyer was very interested in celestial mechanics and so was
quite familiar with the challenges astronomers such Herget had in calculating
the orbits of the minor planets. Herget’s office was on the left side of the
new hall. Herget was not only a master of the computer, he was a human
computer. He was so in tuned with the Friden calculator that he could literally
hear the answer. In Meyer’s office was an old Marchant calculator similar to
one that Paul Herget had used (the actual Marchant is on display at the
Cincinnati Observatory). When he was a student, he had a summer job where he
used an electrical version of it. He remembered his days at UC as a grad
student in the 1960s when the Math Department located in the Physics Building next
to the computer room and Paul Herget’s office.

Herget got involved with space in the mid1950s where he did
real time calculations for the Vanguard project. Later he worked on the Mercury
manned space flights. NASA would call him up with the initial coordinates of a
capsule and he would calculate whether or not the rocket would reach a suitable
orbit. NASA would give him data base upon early sightings and then had to wait
for a definitive “Go-No Go” for least one orbit around the earth to know for
sure if a continuous orbit would happen. It took about 45 minutes to do one
loop and about the same amount of time to do one computation.

__Andre Deprit__

When Meyer started his teaching career at UC in 1972, he
remembered seeing Deprit walking across the campus one day. Meyer had met
Deprit from a Celestial Mechanist summer program at University of Texas and
they shared a mutual acquaintance, Julian Palmore. Palmore earned his PhD from
Yale in 1967 and Deprit was his second advisor. Later, Meyer and Palmore worked
together at the University of Minnesota and they had authored several papers
together.

Meyer helped get Deprit transferred into the Math Department
as he was originally hired to work at the observatory, but he and Herget did
see eye-to-eye. Deprit started teaching some of their computing courses for
them as it was an option for their math students. He was an expert in PL/1,
assembler, and a few other languages and was very interested in Mechanized
Algebraic Operations (MAO) and computer aided proofs in analysis. Deprit also
worked with Schmidt on some early symbolic computation before mathematical
software such as Maple or Mathematica existed.

__Ken Seidelmann__

Meyer was very familiar with Seidelmann’s work and spoke
very highly of his. Meyer had gone to a conference in Belgium and ran met a
woman who happened to be from Cincinnati. As they began to talk, it turned out
that she knew Meyer’s high school girlfriend and her husband was Ken
Seidelmann. Even then the world seemed to be a small place.

Bobbie had taken the wood working courses at OCAS (Ohio
College of Applied Science) when the college was located downtown in the old
Emery building. It was a very good program and had originated from the former Ohio
Mechanics Institute (OMI was founded in 1828) which was the predecessor to the
College of Applied Science which was eventually merged with the College of
Engineering to form the College of Engineering and Applied Science or CEAS.

**References**

Chris McCord (email correspondence) -- McCord was serving as
acting associate dean for graduate affairs for the College of Arts and Sciences
during 2003-2004.

The Right Angle Vol 11 Mathematics Alumni Newsletter Autumn
2003